Puel backs VAR as history is made

Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho (left) scoring in the FA Cup third-round replay at home to Fleetwood Town. The goal, the Premier League side's second in Tuesday's 2-0 victory, was initially disallowed for offside, before referee Jon Moss cha
Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho (left) scoring in the FA Cup third-round replay at home to Fleetwood Town. The goal, the Premier League side's second in Tuesday's 2-0 victory, was initially disallowed for offside, before referee Jon Moss changed his decision based on the video assistant referee system.PHOTO: REUTERS

Iheanacho gets 1st goal awarded in England by video assistant referee after reversal of decision

LONDON • In years to come, this might be considered the first success of a football revolution. Or, the beginning of the machines taking over and removing the joy from football.

Either way, for the first time in the English game, VAR (video assistant referee) was used to reverse a decision, awarding Kelechi Iheanacho his and Leicester's second goal in their 2-0 FA Cup third-round replay win over Fleetwood Town.

Iheanacho was the hero on what was at first a tricky night at the King Power Stadium and the closing stages could have been nerve-racking had his second not been allowed, an erroneous linesman's flag corrected by TV replays.

Predictably enough, the managers were split along party lines about the new technology.

Claude Puel, previously a VAR sceptic and with a grin playing upon his lips, said it helped his side on Tuesday.

"It was a good thing for us. The video is not perfect because we should have had free kicks for fouls on (Vicente) Iborra but, for the goal, it was good," the Leicester boss said.

RED-LETTER DAY

It was a good thing for us. The video is not perfect because we should have had free kicks for fouls on (Vicente) Iborra but, for the goal, it was good.

CLAUDE PUEL, Leicester City manager and a former VAR sceptic, after his side became the first English club to benefit from a VAR decision.


STILL NOT CONVINCED

Can they really say it was onside, or are they guessing? Sometimes even VAR is not clear. In general - don't complicate football too much. The game is beautiful. Let it be pure.

UWE ROSLER, Fleetwood Town manager, explaining why he has reservations about the VAR system.

Uwe Rosler, the League One side's manager, was not so certain.

"Can they really say it was onside, or are they guessing?" he questioned. "Sometimes even VAR is not clear. In general - don't complicate football too much. The game is beautiful. Let it be pure."

When Iheanacho ran onto a Riyad Mahrez pass to slot home in the 77th minute, his strike was initially ruled out for offside.

But after a short delay while the attack was being broken down and analysed by the VAR assistant Mike Jones, the decision was changed - replays showed Iheanacho was marginally onside - and referee Jon Moss awarded a goal.

The VAR system was first used in England earlier this month for Brighton's FA Cup third-round tie against Crystal Palace and the League Cup semi-final first leg between Chelsea and Arsenal.

However, this was the first time it had actually been needed to reverse a decision.

"I didn't know if I was onside or offside, but I agree totally now that I was onside," Iheanacho said.

"I was concentrating on the goal, I didn't think if I was onside or offside, but Riyad told me that I was onside. We just waited to see what the decision was."

VAR, which has already been used in other competitions around the world, can be called on to rule on matters of goals, straight red cards, penalty decisions and cases of mistaken identity.

Leicester's reward for their win is a trip to Peterborough, also a third-tier opponent, in the fourth round.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2018, with the headline 'Puel backs VAR as history is made'. Print Edition | Subscribe